Lincolnshire people

Famous and not so famous sons and daughters of Lincolnshire or those with strong connections to the county.

John Bangay

Born in Sleaford, John Bangay has been a professional artist in Lincolnshire since 1972, mainly drawing on architectural subject matter, particularly windmills and other architectural heritage, and publishing prints aimed at the tourist market.

He has drawn a series of pictures of historic Lincoln which are available from the Tourist Information Offices in Lincoln as postcards.

Sir Joseph Banks

Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), naturalist and explorer, accompanied Captain James Cook in the voyage of the Endeavour.

Banks brought back many specimens from his travels. He helped to establish the Botanic Gardens at Kew, near London, not only as a repository of thousands of living specimens from all over the world, but as a centre for the introduction of plants to new regions, including breadfruit and tea. His herbarium and library in London became a centre of taxonomic research, freely available to scholars from all over the world, and after his death it became part of the British Museum.

Banks farmed in Lincolnshire and his house was at Revesby.

The Lawn, opposite the West Gate of Lincoln Castle, has a gallery dedicated to Banks.

A portrait of Sir Joseph Banks hangs in the Usher Art Gallery in Lincoln. It originally belonged to the late Australian billionaire Kerry Packer (died December 2005), but he was persuaded to sell by the good folk of Lincolnshire.

George Boole

George Boole (1815-1864), mathematician, logician and philosopher, is Lincoln's most famous son, and yet his name is virtually unknown in his place of birth. Born in Lincoln, George Boole was a schoolmaster at a school at Doncaster at the age of 16. He was to establish a school of his own in Lincoln, which later relocated to Waddington. Boole contributed several learned papers to a Cambridge mathematical journal, and was later to become the first professor of mathematics at was to become University College Cork in Ireland. Boole's most important contribution was that of Boolean logic, an algebraic method of manipulating logical symbols, without which we would have no computers today.

Matthew Flinders

Matthew Flinders (1774-1814), born at Donington in Lincolnshire, was one of the most accomplished navigators and chartmakers of his age. In a career that spanned just over twenty years, he sailed with Captain William Bligh, circumnavigated and named Australia, survived shipwreck and disaster only to be imprisoned as a spy, identified and corrected the effect of iron ships upon compass readings, and wrote the seminal work on Australian exploration A Voyage To Terra Australis.

The Bass Strait, between Australia and Tasmania, was named in honour of his companion, George Bass, the ship's surgeon. Flinders himself has the Flinders Ranges in South Australia and the Flinders River, in Queensland, named in his honour.

In common with other expeditions, HMS Investigator sailed with an on-board botanist, Robert Brown. He had been sponsored by Sir Joseph Banks who had previously sailed round the world in a voyage of exploration.

Of the thousands of specimens Brown brought back with him, almost 4,000 turned out to be species new to science. Brown in better known today for his discovery of Brownian Motion, the random motion of particles suspended in a fluid.

Flinders met the French explorer and navigator Nicolas Baudin off the coast of Australia, which they were both mapping at the time. He named the bay where they met Encounter Bay. The meeting at Encounter Bay by the two expeditions marked the point at which the entire coastline of continental Australia became mapped.

On his return to England from his expedition with Robert Brown, Flinders was captured by the French.

The first time the name Australia was ever used on a map or chart was in 1804 when Flinders wrote to Sir Joseph Banks and mentioned "my general chart of Australia." The 'chart' was 92cm x 72cm, made by Flinders whilst he was imprisoned by the French on Mauritius.

Flinders died the day following publication of A Voyage To Terra Australis.

The archaeologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie was the grandson of Matthew Flinders.

Sir John Franklin

Sir John Franklin (1786-1847) was born in Spilsby, in Lincolnshire. He died on 11 June 1847, near King William Island, British Arctic Islands, now known as the Northwest Territories, in Canada.

An English rear admiral and explorer, his ill-fated expedition (1845) is credited with having proved the existence of the Northwest Passage, a Canadian Arctic waterway connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. This NW passage was first proposed in the late 16th century without result, attempts were abandoned after the 17th century until the 19th century.

Franklin entered the Royal Navy at the age of 14, accompanied Matthew Flinders on his exploratory voyage to Australia (1801-03), and served in the battles of Trafalgar (1805) and New Orleans (1814). He commanded the Trent on Captain David Buchan's Arctic expedition of 1818, which sought to reach the North Pole.

Franklin's search for the Northwest Passage began on 19 May 1845, when he sailed from England with two ships, the Erebus and the Terror, carrying 128 officers and men. The vessels were last sighted by British whalers north of Baffin Island at the entrance to Lancaster Sound in late July. In 1847, when no word had been received, search parties were sent out. For 12 years, various expeditions sought the explorers, but their fate was unknown until 1859.

The disappearance of Franklin's expedition set off a frenzy of activity in the Arctic; several search parties were organised at Lady Franklin's urging and expense, and others went there simply because the search for Franklin had captured the popular imagination. At one point, there were 10 British and two American ships heading to the Arctic (a much larger number of men died looking for Franklin than were lost in his expedition). Although all of them claimed to be looking for Franklin, a number of these expeditions were in fact searching for a route to the North Pole instead.

In 1859, a final search mission, sent in 1857 by Franklin's second wife, Lady Jane Franklin, and headed by Captain Francis Leopold McClintock, reached King William Island, south and west of Lancaster Sound. What they found were skeletons of the vessels' crews and a written account of the expedition through 25 April 1848.

Franklin's ships had become locked in ice. The ice-bound ships were deserted on 22 April 1848, and the 105 survivors tried to head south across the North American mainland to the Back River, apparently resorting to cannibalism along the way. An old Eskimo woman told Captain McClintock of how the starving men fell down and died as they walked. Franklin himself never proved the existence of the Northwest Passage, but a small party from his expedition may have reached Simpson Strait, which connected with the western coastal waters previously visited by Franklin. Postmortems conducted on the preserved bodies of several crew members suggest that lead poisoning from eating faultily tinned food may have contributed to the mental and physical decline of the expedition.

Clare Gascoigne

Artist Clare Gascoigne (1970- ) was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1970, then in 1992 she moved to Lincolnshire, where she is now based.

Her work consists of abstract paintings. Nothing worth writing home about. The notable exception being two seascapes, blue beach breakers and submerged breaker.

Guy Gibson

Based at RAF Scampton during WWII, Squadron Leader Guy Gibson led the Dambusters raid on the dams in the Ruhr Valley, an action for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The 1950s film The Dam Busters was based on the raid, with Richard Todd playing the part of Guy Gibson.

Guy Gibson was killed on a mission in 1944.

Guy Gibson was born in Simla in the Empire of India, the son of Alexander James Gibson and Norah Gibson. He moved with his family to Porthleven, Cornwall, England in 1921 aged three. He was educated at St Edward's School, Oxford.

In 1936 he joined the RAF and by the outbreak of the Second World War was a bomber pilot with 83 Squadron.

In July 1940 on Bomber Command's first raid of the war he won the Distinguished Flying Cross. After completing his first tour of duty, by volunteering for Fighter Command, he avoided the normal six-month rest from operations at a flying training establishment. As a night fighter he obtained four kills and won a bar to his DFC.

Promotion to wing commander followed and at the age of 23 he was posted back to Bomber Command in 1942.

During the next 11 months he led 106 Squadron on 172 sorties.

Guy Gibson was selected to lead the newly formed 617 Squadron, specially formed for the attack on the dams in the Ruhr Valley, now known as the Dambusters raid.

After the Dambusters raid, Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross in recognition not just of the raid, but his leadership and valour demonstrated on many previous sorties.

Wing Commander Gibson, whose personal courage knew no bounds, was quickly recognised to be an outstanding operational pilot and leader. He served with conspicuously successful results as a night bomber pilot and also as a night fighter pilot, on operational tours. In addition, on his "rest" nights he made single-handed attacks on highly defended objectives such as the German battleship Tirpitz. Wing Commander Gibson was then selected to command a squadron formed for special tasks. Under his inspiring leadership this squadron executed one of the most devastating attacks of the war - the breaching of the Moehne and Eder dams. Wing Commander Gibson personally made the initial attack on the Moehne dam. Descending to within a few feet of the water, he delivered his attack with great accuracy. He then circled very low for thirty minutes, drawing the enemy fire and permitting as free a run as possible to the following aircraft. He repeated these tactics in the attack on the Eder dam. Throughout his operational career, prolonged exceptionally at his own request, he has shown leadership, determination and valour of the highest order.

After receiving his VC Gibson was sent on a lecture tour of the United States by the government, partly to keep the new hero safe. He also wrote an account of the raids, Enemy Coast Ahead. The tour was at a time when the first American airmen were coming home `tour expired' after 25 operations. During questions one young lady asked 'Wing commander Gibson, how many operations have you been on over Germany?' Gibson replied, 'One hundred and seventy-four.' There was a stunned silence.

Gibson returned to operational duties in 1944, after pestering Bomber Command, and was killed when his de Havilland Mosquito crashed whilst returning from a bombing raid on Rheydt, near Bergen-op-Zoom, the Netherlands, on 19 September 1944. At least that was the official story. It has always been assumed for many years that he had been shot down, but following the discovery of the wreckage of his plane, it was found that a fault with the fuel tank selector had meant that the aircraft had simply run out of fuel. Or had it? Acording to rumours circulating in the local Scampton pubs at the time, as Gibson flew back toward Britain he saw a train and, as he was convinced it was carrying ammunition, he decided to fly low and machine gun it. A German guard shot back and as Gibson was so low he was hit in the fuel tank and the plane crashed in flames. A Dutch eye-witness on the ground saw the plane come down in flames.

Rachel Green

Chef and local food hero Rachel Green is a farmer's daughter from Lincolnshire, where her family have farmed for fourteen generations. She has a passion for local food and seasonal produce. In her series for Yorkshire TV, The Flying Cook, she searched out local food producers from a helicopter. So much for sustainability! In her latest series, World on A Plate (scheduled to be screened April 2007), Rachel celebrates ethnic cuisines with families living in the region, from Hindu to West Indian, from Polish to Jewish families.

The presence of Rachael Green promoting Lincolnshire food has helped turn Lincoln into a 'gastrohub'. [see Bad Food Britain]

John Harrison

John Harrison (16931776), watchmaker, born at Barton-on-Humber, was an English clock designer, who developed and built the world's first successful maritime clock, one whose accuracy was great enough to allow the determination of longitude over long distances.

A carpenter by trade, Harrison built and repaired clocks.

The Board of Longitude offered a prize for an accurate clock.

John Harrison picked up the challenge to design an accurate clock, suitable for a sea voyage.

He produced a sequence of designs, each one superior to his previous. Along the way he invented a temperature compensated pendulum.

His fourth design, now designated H4, was a large pocket watch, unlike his previous designs which had all been maritime clocks.

It took Harrison seven years to build Harrison Number One or H1. He presented it to members of the Royal Society who spoke on its behalf to the Board of Longitude. The board was so skeptical of any such design, after 14 years of failures, that they demanded a sea trial. Harrison boarded a small ship to Lisbon and back, and on their return the captain and navigator both praised the design. The navigator noted that his own calculations estimated they were 90 miles offshore on their return to Britain, but the H1 put them just offshore right when the shoreline appeared.

This was not the Atlantic voyage required by the Board of Longitude, so Harrison built H2 and H3. H2 took three years of work and two years of testing on land. Harrison then worked on H3, but abandoned it after five years as he was not happy with its performance.

H4 took 13 years to construct, and Harrison, now 68 years old, sent it on its transatlantic trial in the care of his son, William, in 1761. When the ship reached Jamaica it was only two miles in error. When the ship returned Harrison waited for the 20,000 prize, but the Board refused to believe the accuracy was not just luck, and demanded another trial.

A second trial, and again H4 proved to be incredibly accurate, again Harrison was refused the prize.

Following intervention by the King and a petition of Parliament, Harrison, now an old man, finally received his prize in 1773.

Captain James Cook used a copy of H4 on his voyages.

H1, H2, H3 and H4 can be seen on display in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich Observatory. H5 is owned by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers of London and is on display at the Clockmakers' Museum in the Guildhall, London.

Harrison's home in London was located on the south side of Red Lion Square, where a plaque can be found on Summit House.

A play entitled Longitude about the life of John Harrison, had its first opening night at a theatre in Greenwich in 2005.

Further reading: Longitude: The true story of a lone genius who solved the greatest scientific problem of his time by Dava Sobel (1995) or the illustrated volume co-written with William J H Andrewes The Illustrated Longitude (1998).

Hugh of Lincoln

Hugh of Lincoln (aka Hugh of Avalon, Hugh of Burgundy, Saint Hugh), was Bishop of Lincoln. When the cathedral was damaged by an earthquake in 1885, Bishop Hugh was instrumental in its rebuilding and enlargement in the Gothic style, although he did not live to see his work completed. His emblem was a white swan, in recognition of a swan that followed him around and guarded his bed at night whilst he slept.

Lincoln is famous for the large flock of swans to be found on the Brayford and Witham in the town centre.

Saint Hugh was canonized by Pope Honorius III in 1220. He is the Patron Saint of sick children, sick people, and swans.

L S Lowry

Famous for his matchstick men and industrial landscapes, a couple of paintings by L S Lowry (1887-1976) hang in the Usher Gallery, including one of Lincoln Cathedral.

John Nettleton

Based at RAF Waddington, Squadron Leader John Nettleton (1917-1943) led the first major sortie by Lancaster bombers in WWII. It was an attack in broad daylight on a submarine diesel engine works in Augsburg in southern Germany. An action for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

John Nettleton was typical of many of the RAF crews in WWII, in that he was not English, he was a Rhodesian born in South Africa in 1917. He was only 24 years old when he led the raid. He died in 1943 when he was shot down over the Bay of Biscay. His body was never recovered.

Sir Isaac Newton

Born in the little hamlet of Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, Isaac Newton, together with Albert Einstein, was one of the world's most influential physicists. The work of Einstein underpins modern physics, that of Newton underpins classical physics. Isaac Newton carried out pioneering work in the field of mathematics, light, optics, mechanics, motion, gravity.

During the filming of The Da Vinci Code at Lincoln Cathedral, one of the scenes that takes place is the funeral of Isaac Newton. No such scene takes place in the book.

The plot of The Da Vinci Code revolves around the Priory of Sion, of which Sir Isaac Newton was reputed to be a leading member. Our heroes are in Westminster Abbey, at the site of Sir Isaac Newton's tomb, to investigate possible clues, one of which is an apple missing from the tomb.

Filming of The Da Vinci Code, staring Tom Hanks, took place in the summer of 2005 at Lincoln Cathedral, with the Chapter House of the Cathedral taking the part of Westminster Abbey.

Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine (1737-1809), radical writer, was born at Thetford, Norfolk, and began his working life making corsets, apprenticed to his father.

After having worked for a couple of years in Grantham, he became an excise man based at Alford for about a year, until August 1765.

Harry Parkins

Harry Parkins, one of the many unsung heroes of WWII. A Londoner by birth, Harry Parkins served in Bomber Command flying Lancasters. He was stationed in Lincolnshire at RAF East Kirkby (630 Squadron) and RAF Fiskerton (576 Squadron). A veteran of 45 operations, the last being on VE Day dropping food to the starving Dutch in Operation Manna.

On leaving the air force, now married to a local lass, Harry Parkins settled in Lincolnshire.

Panton Brothers

Two Lincolnshire farmers, bothers Harold Panton and Fred Panton, established at the former RAF base of East Kirby the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre in memory of their elder brother Pilot Officer Christopher Panton who together with 55,000 other aircrew of Bomber Command lost their lives during WWII.

The centre contains an operational Spitfire, a Lancaster, and exhibits on Bomber Command and life during World War II.

Old Mother Riley

Old Mother Riley was a Music Hall act which ran from about 1934 to 1954.

The part of the Irish washerwoman Old Mother Riley was played by Arthur Lucan, and his wife Kitty McShane played Old Mother Riley's daughter, Kitty.

Arthur Lucan was born Arthur Towle, in Sibsey, Lincolnshire, but his family shortly afterwards moved to Boston, Lincolnshire. At the age of 14, he left home to pursue a career in Music Hall.

Bernie Taupin

Look at all the good stuff that Elton John has churned out and you will see it was all co-written with one man, Bernie Taupin.

Lyricist Bernie Taupin (1950- ) was born in Anwick, a village outside Sleaford, Lincolnshire. His family moved while he was young, and he grew up in another Lincolnshire village, Owmby-by-Spital, where his father managed a farm. He went to school in nearby Market Rasen.

In 1967, Bernie Taupin answered an advertisement for a lyric-writer printed in the New Musical Express which began the successful partnership of Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

Elton John and Bernie Taupin have worked together on over 30 albums. A list to long too long to mention, but including 'Candle in the Wind', 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me' ...

Bernie Taupin now lives on a ranch in southern California and has taken to painting, although he is still actively involved in music.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), poet, was born at Somersby in Lincolnshire and attended Louth Grammar School, before going up to Trinity College, Cambridge. He was appointed Poet Laureate to succeed William Wordsworth. As Poet Laureate he produced his best known work 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'. Other works include 'The Lady of Shalott' and 'Morte d'Arthur'. His Arthurian tales were collected together in Idylls of the King. Idylls of the King was typical of much of his work, in that it had a mythological or classical theme. Tennyson was the first poet to be elevated to the peerage. He lies buried in Westminster Abbey.

A statue of Tennyson can be found outside Lincoln Cathedral.

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher, daughter of a Grantham greengrocer, was Britain's first female Prime Minister. One of the more polite names by which she was known was the Iron Lady. You either loved her or loathed her. Eventually she was more loathed than loved and her own party kicked her out of office. Her legacy has been to leave behind a party that is still tearing itself apart, and Thatcherism, a country with a widening gap between rich and poor, driven by greed and no sense of society. Thatcherism a neoliberal philosophy, the driving force behind privatisation and globalisation. Her true heir has proved to be not a member of her own party, but Tony Blair, leader of the Labour Party.

When Margaret Thatcher was at the height of her power, her only opposition was not the Official Opposition, the Parliamentary Labour Party, but Ken Livingstone, leader of the Greater London Council across the Thames. Her only answer, was to abolish the GLC. Ken Livingstone, unlike Margaret Thatcher, has proved to be a survivor, and two decades on has returned as the elected Mayor of London. Ironically as the now Official Opposition, the Conservative Party, is in disarray, the only opposition to Tony Blair is, Ken Livingstone.

Recommended reading: Who's Afraid of Margaret Thatcher? by Ken Livingstone and Tariq Ali (Verso: 1984).

Dame Sybil Thorndike

Dame Sybil Thorndike (18821976), actress, was born in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.

The Thorndike Theatre in Leatherhead, Surrey is named after her.

Richard Todd

Richard Todd, who played the part of Wing Commander Guy Gibson in the 1950s film The Dam Busters, now lives at Grantham in Lincolnshire.

James Usher

James Usher was a Lincoln jeweller of some renown and an avid collector. On his death his collection formed the foundation of the Usher Gallery in Lincoln, now known as The Collection following a merger with the City and County Museum.

Peter Washbourn

Peter Washbourn (1936- ) worked as commercial photographer before joining the Lincolnshire Echo in 1956, working in the darkroom. In 1960 he moved to outside duties as a press photographer, and remained with the Echo until his retirement in 1996 after 40 years service.

Since his 'retirement', Peter Washbourn has been compiling a series of books illustrating the history of Lincoln and Lincolnshire. [see BCID 5765920]

Peter de Wint

Landscape painter Peter de Wint (1784-1849) is known for his watercolours.

Of Dutch extraction, born at Stone, Staffordshire, the son of an English physician, he lived in Lincoln.

He studied art in London, and in 1809 entered the Academy schools. In 1812 he became a member of the Society of Painters in Watercolours, where he exhibited largely for many years, as well as at the Academy. He married in 1810 the sister of William Hilton RA. He died in London.

A number of his pictures are in the Tate, National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum and The Collection, Lincoln.

The most comprehensive collection of de Wint paintings is to be found in the Usher Gallery in Lincoln, now known as The Collection, since its amalgamation with the City and County Museum.

(c) Keith Parkins 2005-2009 -- January 2009 rev 7